The militants of ISIS could have executed their American hostages in any number of ways, but they deliberately chose beheadings. David Brooks susses out what makes this method so "revolting" to the rest of us, and he concludes that it's mostly a "moral revulsion" we feel. A beheading is more than a murder, he writes in the New York Times. It's a "defilement," an "indignity" more on par with "rape, castration, or cannibalism." Even if we don't articulate it, most of us have an intuitive sense that the human body is "sacred," writes Brooks. More than flesh and bones, it is "spiritualized matter."
The militants, though, are more focused on the next world than the reality of the current, physical one. They tell themselves that they've "risen above the senses" and so it doesn't matter to them how they treat their enemies' bodies. "If ISIS is to be stopped, there will probably have to be some sort of political and military coalition," writes Brooks. "But, ultimately, the Islamists are a spiritual movement that will have to be surmounted by a superior version of Islam." Click for his full column.